* Commission expected to propose 2030 law around year-end
* Environmental lobby says carbon goal too weak
* Debate expected to be fierce
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, Sept 19 European Union regulators are
considering doubling the bloc's target to cut greenhouse gas
emissions by 2030 and setting a tougher binding goal for
renewable energy use, EU sources said.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, outlined new
targets earlier this year but has yet to follow up with a firm
legislative proposal. That is expected around the end of the
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one source said the
Commission was considering two legal targets to follow the three
green energy goals that expire at the end of this decade.
They would be a 40 percent carbon-reduction goal and a 30
percent renewable energy use target. That compares with the 2020
targets of a 20 percent carbon cut from 1990 levels, a 20
percent share of renewable energy and a target to improve energy
savings to 20 percent.
"The Commission at the moment is looking at a 40 percent
domestic greenhouse gas target and a 30 percent EU-wide
renewables target, but no third target," the source said, adding
some commissioners opposed the goals and debate would be
In addition to cutting domestic emissions by 40 percent,
another source said the EU could commit to further cuts through
international offsets if a global climate change deal is agreed.
The source added Commission experts were analysing the
economic impact of a 35-45 percent range for carbon cutting.
Traditionally, EU climate policy has been the preserve of
the Commission's climate and energy departments. But Europe's
economic struggles have prompted influential officials,
including EU Economic and Monetary Affairs chief Olli Rehn, to
insist green policy must not undo fragile recovery.
The European Union's goals can influence the international
debate on climate change and also have a bearing on the European
Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which fell to record
lows earlier this year under the burden of surplus permits.
Tougher policy goals could help to limit the oversupply of
If agreed, the new European goals would be more ambitious
than other nations have managed.
The U.S. Senate has refused to legislate cuts favoured by
U.S. President Barack Obama and Australia's new conservative
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who won power last month, has
promised to scrap taxes on carbon pollution.
Still, environmental campaigners say the 2030 EU
carbon-cutting goal should be 60 percent.
"The greenhouse gas numbers that the Commission is currently
going for gives us only a 50:50 chance of preventing run-away
climate change," said Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner
at Friends of the Earth (FoE).
He said the range used to model the economic impact was far
too low and the Commission was putting short-term political
pragmatism before science.
The Commission does not comment on proposals before they are
Speaking in Vilnius, where EU energy ministers are meeting
on Thursday and Friday, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger
said only the debate was open.
"It's up to member states to bring some input, to bring some
constructive priorities," he told reporters.
Member states appear deeply divided. Denmark has advocated a
new set of three targets, but others, including Britain, have
said they want just one carbon-cutting goal.
EU member Poland, which will host the next U.N. talks on
climate change in Warsaw this year, says the European Union
should not make any promises until there is a global deal, which
is not expected until a U.N. summit in Paris in 2015.
Even U.N. officials have voiced concern that nations will
not promise sufficient carbon cuts.
Echoing disagreement at the government level, the business
community is also divided on the need for binding EU targets.
An open letter to EU energy ministers and commissioners,
signed by 61 companies and associations, including energy firms
Alstom and Acciona, called for a binding 2030
renewable goal, but did not specify a level.
(Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo, Andrius Sytas
in Vilnius and Nina Chestney in London; editing by Jason Neely)